Service dogs are getting more and more popular among people with physical, sensory, or mental disabilities, as they perform different types of tasks in order to enhance their lives. To be a good service dog handler requires time, discipline, a lot of training, patience, and very often substantial financial resources. Some people decide to get a service dog provided by a professional trainer or organization, others enroll in online courses so that they can train their own service dog, to create a strong bond with their dog partner, and of course to save some money. Whether trained professionally or individually at home, it is expensive to take care of a pet, especially a service animal. We have mentioned many times before that service dogs are not deemed pets, they are a subject of a different policy (ADA regulations) and accompany their owners wherever they go.
Considering the status of service dogs as well as the costs to receive and raise one, some of you might ask - which services would help people with disabilities to receive a service dog, and are costs for a service animal covered by health insurance or medical programs?
Which Services To Use To Afford A Service Animal
If you get paid through SSDI - Social Security Disability Income or the Social Security, you could use a part of the benefit to cover some service dog costs like daily care or training.
If you are a veteran, and you get paid via the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs you may be able to get covered for a service animal. After your medical practitioner verifies that you need a service animal, you need to submit an application that will be evaluated. In case that you qualify for a service dog, you may get one with all bills by a veterinarian and necessary equipment paid. Costs for service dogs received by this procedure will be covered by the Prosthetic & Sensory Aids Service. We need to mention that food, grooming care, and most important - the service animal itself, will not be covered.
In case that you do not receive benefits for disability or veteran benefits, you could create an FSA- flexible spending account. This kind of account enables savings free of tax so that you can cover some costs related to the raising of a service dog.
Another option is personal loans, of course, you need to keep in mind that you must be able to cover the payments. Many people reach out to their personal savings in order to afford a service animal.
There are also non-profit organizations, that are specialized in training and providing service dogs to people with disabilities. While some of them are specialized in one type of disability, others could be helpful to people with different types of disorders, as they are not focused on one type only. Among some of the most popular non-profit organizations like: Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, Canine Companions for Independence, International Association of Assistance Dog Partners, Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities (ECAD), Paws With A Cause, Service Dog Express, there are also not so popular local organizations that can be beneficial as well.
We already explained how expensive could be the process of obtaining, training, and raising a service dog, especially when the medical insurance does not cover these costs. If you have decided to get a service dog despite the costs, you might want to insure him/her the way you like to make insurance for a family member. Getting your service dog insured may cover veterinarian visits, medications, tests. Of course, all dog handlers want to provide their fluffy friends with the best living conditions.
Are There Different Or Special Insurance Plans For Service Dogs
Similar to the insurance plans for humans, there is a diversity of insurance plans for pets, with a certain range of protections. Unfortunately there are no specific insurance plans for service dogs only. However, people with disabilities can use different options for flexible payments, that their employers provide. These payments make it possible for the employees to use tax-free incomes to cover some service dog costs. It is important to mention that these plans do not help cover costs for ESA- emotional support animal.
How Much Could A Service Dog Insurance Cost?
To get your service dog insured and how much the insurance would cover is highly related to the dog’s breed and the issues that could be expected in the future. Fortunately, there is a variety of insurance companies and plans so that you will be able to find the most suitable for you. Compared to the insurance for a pet (service dogs are not considered pets, as it has been trained to perform specific tasks), the insurance for a service dog could be up 10 times more expensive. People interested in having a service dog should carefully consider the associated costs. Daily care, food, veterinarian checks, lab tests are only a part of the costs that need to be covered. With that in mind, we can say that a service dog can be seen as a real investment people need to manage carefully. If your service dog is a representative of a “risk breed” you need to expect even more expensive insurance.
Are Service Dogs Covered By Health Insurance?
The answer to this question is No. Unfortunately, most medical plans are not related to coverage of service animals' costs. Due to the fact that obtaining and raising a service animal is considered very expensive, and many people can not afford such, health insurance companies usually do not include service animals in their policy. However, if you are a service dog handler, you can reach out to a pet insurance policy, in order to protect your fluffy friend.
Medicare and Medicaid Service Dogs Insurance
Both Medicare and Medicaid are programs for health coverage. The main difference between both programs is that Medicare is a federal program, and it provides health coverage for people over the age of 65+ or under the age of 65, and they have a disability. So the benefits provided by this program are mostly related to the age of the applicant and not to his/her income.
Medicaid is a state program that provides health coverage for people, whose income is very low. However, there might be circumstances (some types of disabilities) that may qualify you for benefits through Medicare.
In some cases, you might be an eligible applicant for both Medicare and Medicaid and might be able to get a special needs plan that covers payments provided by both programs.
Medicare covers many costs for people with disabilities, unfortunately, costs for receiving and/or raising service animals are not included in their policy. Veterinarian or food costs are also not covered by Medicare. However, special equipment or mental health will be covered, so that you can reduce your service animal costs. Service animal costs are also not covered by Medicaid.
Home Insurance Policy
Another important policy that handlers of service animals need to be familiar with is the Homeowners’ insurance policy.
We will list some facts in regard to the possession of a dog and a homeowner’s insurance.
Nearly half of all families in the US have a dog; According to the Centers For Decease Control And Prevention (CDC), the average number of persons bitten by a dog per year is 4.5 million and an urgent treatment has been provided for 1 of 5 bitten persons; An insurance for a bite can reach approximately more than $30.000; The value of the bite claims increase, and most claims for injuries due to dog bites are reportedly in California.
Unfortunately, many insurance companies take advantage of the laws in some states, that are discriminating against certain breeds.
If you find it reasonable to have homeowner’s insurance, that fits your needs the best way possible, you might want to consider some things.
You need to do research carefully for the most proper insurance companies, as there might be small local companies or agents, that would be able to provide you with insurance according to your needs. We would recommend that you keep looking for an appropriate company or an agent if your first choice is not the best one for you.
You always need to keep in mind that insurance companies, especially the approved and experienced ones will take action to not bear the responsibility if/when needed. An action they take often is to require certifications for obedience, socialization, and training, that your dog should have passed.
In case that you doubt that your insurance company meets your state’s regulations, you always can contact a state insurance official. If you want to be sure which companies provide a homeowner’s insurance you can ask the insurance commissioner for assistance. The main reason for this is to prevent unethical insurance companies to deny a homeowner’s insurance based on a breed profiling, pretending to comply with the local regulations.
We also would recommend that you contact the Federation of Insured Dog Owners for any further assistance.
At the end of the article, we would like to mention some companies deemed some of the best Pet Insurance Companies for 2021 like Spot, ASPCA, Pumpkin, Embrace.